James R. Wright, 76, of Salem, VA, known to his family and friends as Shorty, James Rodney, JR, and Jim, passed away on Monday, April 26, 2021. He has joined in Heaven his parents, Thomas and Frances Hackett Wright, and his brother, Tony. He is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Elsie, his only child, Patrick of Richmond, his sister, Rovonda Andrews of Hardy, and the many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, great-great-nieces, and great-great-nephews he loved dearly.
Master Sergeant Wright retired after 27 years from the United States Marine Corps as a distinguished and decorated Vietnam combat-wounded veteran. He loved his country and served with honor. Semper Fi.
In his civilian life, he was a skilled machinist. After leaving a long-time position with Eaton Corporation when it relocated to North Carolina, he began a 24-year teaching career at Salem High School in its then-new vocational wing. Besides his regular teaching duties, he coached girls’ softball for 16 seasons and later drove the activity bus for nearly every sports team for many more.
Shorty was a regular and devoted CommUNITY Church member. He was baptized on Mother’s Day 1953 with his father as members of Tabernacle Baptist Church, in the building where his church now gathers. Over the years, he served in many capacities ranging from unofficial chief building maintenance engineer to deacon. He was a friend, mentor, second dad, and second grandfather to kids of all ages in the congregation.
He loved golfing, reading military fiction and history, listening to “real” country music, watching John Wayne movies, and beating computer solitaire.
Everyone he touched will remember him for his steadfast loyalty and generous spirit.
The family will hold funeral services at 2:00 pm on Monday, May 3, 2021, at CommUNITY Church, with Pastor Tom McCracken officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at Cedar Lawn Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 1:00 before the service at the church.
Instead of flowers or food, friends may make donations in his memory to CommUNITY Church or the Toys for Tots Foundation.
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